THE Lesotho Chefs Association (LCA) has called on the new government to prioritise investing in human resources and infrastructure of the hospitality industry to enable the sector to effectively contribute to the country’s economic development.
LCA President, Chef Donald Moletsane made the call in an interview with the Weekender this week.
Chef Donald said tourism sector’s potential to boost the economy could only be fulfilled by first fixing the challenges bedeviling the hospitality industry, chief of them, the shortage of skilled labour and poor infrastructure.
“The government needs to ensure that people working in food outlets including hotels and resorts get proper training so that they can properly serve guests with the country’s proper foods,” Chef Donald said.
“At times, these outlets promote people who used to wash dishes to chefs without first properly training them. “Such people will not even be able to distinguish between starters and salads.”
He said the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation introduced training seminars in 2014 which only covered Maseru, Mafeteng and Berea before being stopped.
“We expect those seminars to resume in order to improve services to customers who include tourists.”
Chef Donald also operates a culinary arts school, Dona@Balos Chef and Hospitality School, since 2013. His students have participated in several international culinary arts competitions in the United Arab Emirates, Ghana and South Africa.
Some of his students are currently on internship programmes in Ghana and South Africa.
He has also created working relations with the Ghana Chefs Association aimed at promoting intercultural relations between the two countries.
He will visit the west African country from 4 to 9 July for discussions on the intercultural relations and progress briefings on Basotho interns in that country.
“The last report I got of the 11 students in Ghana was that they were doing well and their hotels were considering hiring them.
“The agreement with Chefs Association of Ghana was that they also get to send their students to Lesotho but I am afraid they will be disappointed to find our (hospitality) industry is not up to standard.
“Another thing is that Dona@Balos students should not be the only ones benefiting from international exposure but every hospitality institution in the country.
“I have to meet other hospitality schools before departing for Ghana to discuss the forming Team Lesotho so that when those that are in Ghana return in August we will send others from different schools,” he said, adding other schools should also participate in international culinary competitions.
“Dona@Balos students have performed well in various international competitions, winning or achieving top three finishes but we will be stronger if Lesotho is represented by various institutions.
“We also need government to take care of transport fares to the competitions as well as regalia so that the team presents a good image.
“Hospitality schools should also be given the opportunity to cater at government and corporate events to give students exposure while also empowering them. The proceeds from such jobs could also help prepare for international competitions which not only promote the schools but also sell the country to other nations,” he said.